The Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) makes its official debut, after a series of trials for over a year, tomorrow with the first Test between New Zealand and Pakistan at the University Oval in Dunedin. The system will also be used in the Tests between Australia and West Indies, which begin later this week.
There were doubts over whether it would be implemented for this series, due to the high implementation costs involved, but an agreement was reached with Animation Research Limited, a Dunedin-based company, to supply their Virtual Eye ball-tracking technology. The third umpire will now have access to more advanced technology, like the Hot Spot.
"With the improvement of technology, umpires' mistakes are exposed and scrutinised like never before," Dave Richardson, the ICC general manager - cricket, said. "This system will help alleviate the problems created when mistakes - which appear obvious on replays - are made.
"The system allows television technology to be used in a way that will not result in too many delays, will not de-skill the umpires and will take some pressure off the umpires. The fact is that trials showed that the system improved player behaviour and led to a significant reduction in the number of umpiring errors."
The system allows each team two unsuccessful reviews per innings, which can be escalated to the third umpire. The ICC had initially trialled three reviews per innings but reduced it to two, based on feedback from players.
The system received mixed reviews from players and experts, but one of its firm backers is Aleem Dar, the ICC's umpire of the year. "I think it will help reduce the chances of mistakes made on the field," he said. "I support the introduction of this system...It's a tough job out there nowadays, and the review system is helpful for the umpires."
His colleague Billy Bowden said in his report to the ICC that a wrong decision didn't play on his mind or affect his performance for the rest of the game. "From an umpires point of view I embraced it, lived it and loved it," Bowden said. "It gave me confidence to make good, strong umpiring decisions and I did not fall in to the trap of relying on the UDRS to bail me out. I felt in control, relaxed and happy umpiring in the Tests every day.
"I had two decisions reversed in my two Tests. I didn't lose confidence but instead felt good that the right decision was made. It also gave me strength to get back in the zone again and concentrate on the next ball knowing I wouldn't be criticised in the papers the next day."
The UDRS was first used in the Sri Lanka-India Test series last year. The ICC announced in June that the review system would be implemented from October. Due to the non-settlement over who would bear the costs (national boards or broadcasters) UDRS was scrapped for the ongoing India-Sri Lanka Tests, will not be used for the South Africa-England Test series.